Gallant officers and benevolent men: Royal Navy Officers, voluntarism, and the launch of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society in the Early Victorian era

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines the relatively unexplored relationship between Royal Navy flag and commissioned officers and shore-based secular and civic voluntary societies in the early Victorian period using the case study of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society. Portrayed in the literature as heroes and objectivized symbols of the glory of nation, naval officers instead had agency of their own: they were active facilitators, employing personal experience, naval culture and patronage networks to drive forward philanthropic initiatives for the Society. They were crucial to the Society’s success, moving it forward to incorporation by an act of parliament in 1850, and to national and imperial expansion. It suggests that naval associative voluntary service needs to be considered more fully not only in naval history, but also within broader historical studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-21
JournalThe Mariner’s Mirror
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2024


  • Heroism
  • Royal Navy
  • voluntarism
  • naval history
  • charity
  • philanthropy

Cite this